RAGWORKS comes to town

In the spacious gallery that is Stratford east Picturehouse amidst the smell of pop corn  and within the echoes of staff chatting by the hot dog machine downstairs, you will be amazed to find RAGWORKS. Under sympathetic lighting,  wall-hangings depicting Grimm and Anderson fairy tale characters,  West African humanised animals and other flights of an artist’s fancy are  displayed on recycled bamboo hangers.

These art works have been lovingly hand-made and crafted from abandoned refreshed textiles begged from local manufacturers.

Come and see The Palm Oil Daughter, how pretty she is as she melts by the river or Red Riding Hood covered in blood.

Gillian, the artist, (that’s me) studied art at Hornsey Art College and  West African literature in Leicester way back in the seventies before the word ‘multi-cultural’ met Carol Vordermann’s vowel-tray and has exhibited batiks both in east London and Orkney. Over the past two years whilst forging ahead with Up Your Street Gillian has attended many art and craft workshops in the 6 London 2012 boroughs., notably ceramics at The Centre For Better Health in Hackney.  Thirsty to revisit techniques from university days she has joined and completed felt-making classes, patchwork curtain ones, screen -printing workshops, courtesy of Songololo-Feet, and a host of other courses which appeared as freebies to engage seniors with the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012. All to the good. Can’t stop learning.

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The Sahara Grill and Leyton

Re Riding Hood was jam-packed this afternoon. I met many people with views on what they want next year through my volunteering with Open Stage 2012. The whole place was buzzing and the bar and restaurant were rammed. The workers are always welcoming and smiley….adds a lot.

I am doing my best to highlight Leyton as the place to come to for shopping and eating, entertainment and wotnot. Can be an uphill task when everywhere building works are in place especially towards the Site  (Olympic and Paralympic Games). New restaurants are springing up too but if you read the reviews you’d hesitate, I am about to try The Sahara Grill with a review rating of 6/10. It’s a 5 minute walk from Leyton Station and looks beautiful from outside. But look at what’s around it? Even after the cuts, Waltham Forest council promised to clean up the High Street leading to the Site. I see many shuttered hovels. Of course shop owners can do something but do they? Go on the bus from Drapers (doomed) Park opposite the Sahara Grill and as you get towards the mecca that is Bakers’ Arms, count the betting shops. William Hill is obviously too too rich! Love that man.

Anyway guess what? Yes I saw it. I did. A tree in blossom, small but visible behind the road in front of the construction work going on where the Working Men’s Club stood like only yesterday.

On that warming note I won’t go on about the Lego advert on telly. Just watch it and listen with mother. No worse than the Fairy advert or Nisa. All about the role play, eh? I was on a film course and after watching a film we were asked why we thought the main guy was angry with his wife  (it was all about the grieving for a dead child…am I allowed to say that in the light of the Eastenders furore?) so we all put forward our arty farty filmy suggestions involving fade outs and time viewer perceptions then up sparks one of us women. “It’s because his wife hadn’t put his dinner on the table.” Joy to the teacher who got out of that one in a PC manner. I just fell into the pit that was the fifties.

Red Riding Hood

Red Riding Hood  Theatre Royal Stratford east.  This afternoon Dec 30th 2010

                    The production actually started on time with a trio of performance arts pigs warming up the holiday audience  with lots of sing- songs, obligatory shouting, clowning around and prompts to shout.  The mood was set.

                     The Wolf   (Michael Bertenshaw) and Granny  (Derek Elroy)  are shocking and delightful . I would have been happy for the pair of them to carry on playing to us mesmerised ones. They look like the grown up actors in a budget sixth form end of year spoof.  With ‘ Glee’  and ‘ X Factor’  and  ‘Britain’s Got Talent’  we are used to wannabees popping up and showing off.  It was a bit like that with the rest of the cast; a solo spot here and a music mic  there.  It also takes confidence and experience to pull in an audience or maybe today’s audience was slow to respond.

The music is fantastic. Elroy’s singing voice is lovely.

             There is much to commend the performance. Often there are excellent choreographed sets with agile actors displaying their craft. The attempt at a pentecostal church gathering  is miserable and lacking joy despite Atkinson’s energy. The costumes are interesting. The lighting and effects are superb. At one crucial point the Wolf takes on King Kong’s scale. The children in the audience hide under scarves and coats. Here we have a taste of the true darkness of fairy tales. Short-lived because what follows next is a waste of time.

               After the interval Red Riding Hood meets Alien, meets Dr Who, seemingly meets Arts Grant funding criteria, maybe,  where demonstrating the internal goings- on of a Big Bad Wolf’s stomach is deemed educational and worthy.  Who knows what the paying audience made of it?  Where’s the axe whan you need it?

               Overall it is a great afternoon show.  Recommended. Something to look at, something to be puzzled about, a challenge to follow as the deviation from the path takes us into the variation on a tale. Bravo to Chloe and her red hood to die for. Perfect in his acting Marcus Ellard is on his way up. There are special offers on tickets at the moment. Open Stage 2012  volunteers are there to meet you and invite you to prepare next year’s pantomime.  And recognising all the extra characters who hide behind doors and trees like squirrel and baby owl I applaud the blatantly obvious Beyonce-inspired foxy dancer who is unable to steal this particular show. Very very watchable.

                    I never knew until today that the panto is described in places other than Stratford as “the black Red Riding Hood”. White Narnia’s on over the road.

Just want to thank Corinne at Stratford management and Joy at Words of Colour. Never had the best seat in the house ever!

Isle Of Dogs, east London, docklands. Orkney (Maxwell and Sutherland)

Missed Red Riding Hood on Monday with the Open Stage TRSE 2102  volunteers due to the lurgy.  Twas a packed and rowdy house so I heard. Good. Then my germ-carrying stopped me in my tracks today as I made my way out to the Rio Cinema in Dalston to see Tom Hunter’s film about Woodberry Down Estate back in the day called “A Palace For Us”. Gutted. Mind you I would have had to leave rather than seeing the second half of the  programme when “Brief Encounter” would have been screened. Ugh!  Dreary posh unrequited love romantic never sexually tense film seen twice and that’s enough.

Then a text came through inviting me to tune into Radio 4. Glad I did.  Here was a fine example of oral history narrated by Alan Dein and produced by Neil McCarthy. I was interested in listening because of my once active involvement  in oral history recording at the Hermitage Community Moorings, Wapping and my own fervent interest in the history of people in London, bein’ a Londoner, like.

Under a headline project called “Lives in a Landscape” the BBC 4 programme was billed as “The Hall” and was to be about the community hall at St John’s on the Isle of Dogs, east London, known by its indigenous population as “The Island”. The hall is home to “tango queens, Moslem worshippers, bingo addicts and locals who fancy a pint”.

We can almost write the script for the hundreds of projects grown up since the Olympics and Paralympics which pertain to “My Story”. There’s film workshops, newspaper courses, community heritage projects and photographic comps too. because we all have a story to tell. Great change is afoot in the docklands and in our neighbourhoods and the recording of the effects of the change help alleviate a metropolitan uneasiness in which individuals feel swamped and unheard.

Alan’s narrative was ace:It had to be because we are listening to the radio. The working class  characters and retirees loved their community space and evidently put it to full use. The Bangladeshi participant hinted about the Moslem community having been there for two generations but that needed more exploration as the programme tended towards the usual history of the white working class in its old sense.  Yep I heard the old West Indian talking into the mic! The guy described the loss of trees as the area was modernised. Interestingly he said how he has seen the developers encroach into The Island such that the community he knows is whittled down to become inevitably  an island within an island.

The hall is a sanctuary where some of the local people can share stories, play scrabble and bingo and feel that they are continuing a life they knew when they were younger, when the community was an inclusive family-defined and generated entity.

I would relish the edit-outs!

Thank you for that Alan Dein. It was refreshing radio. I think Wapping volunteers are right behind you.

This morning my Ebay win came. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies CD “Mavis In Las Vegas” with the “An Orkney Wedding With Sunrise”. Just sheer beauty that is with all the strings and bagpipes and the creation of the harsh storm weather through Maxwell’s skill. The Orkney people put me off the genius that is Sir Peter. Their scowls and negative mumblings never intrigued me enough to find out more about the man; I had enough to do standing up in the wind. The guy is openly gay but not as in Gay Gordens. That’s one point against him. Secondly he’s an “incomer” Whoa!  Big crime. Need I say more. Just finished reading Luke Sutherland’s “Venus As A Boy”. Sutherland hits the nail on the head regarding life in Orkney but as I lent out the hard-back book, I can’t do the clever quoting.  “Wouldn’t you rather see for yourself?”

Just realized I travelled in my today blog from island to island.  Edgy…